Tag Archives: Florida native wildflowers

Recent flowering plants on Womack Creek – April 11, 2018

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These are flowers which were in bloom on April 11, 2018 on Womack Creek.   The American wisteria has a much thicker cluster of blooms and it does not invade the forests as do the exotic Japanese wisteria.   There are three locations with wisteria vines, but only one of these were seen blooming.  The bloom period is short-lived when the temperatures are in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

Blue flag iris plants can be seen throughout the creek, but are not prolific bloomers, unlike the Crooked River, which connects the Ochlockonee River on the east and the Carrabelle River on the west in Tate’s Hell State Forest.  Whole stands of them bloom along the Crooked River.

One of the most eye-catching flowers are on the narrowleaf primrose plant.  Here shown with Virginia sweetspire.

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Cowcreek spider lilies will be in full bloom within two weeks.  The frame on the right shows a mass of buds and one flowering spider lily.

On Womack Creek landing you will see star grass and the pineland pimpernell, both are small flowered plants and may escape your notice, but look down and you will see them.

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One bush of swamp roses on the upper left branch leading to Nick’s Road campsite are beginning to bloom and spreads its fragrance before you see the roses.

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In the water, spatterdock buds are opening up.

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In about two weeks expect to see swamp titi, southern arrow wood, ogeche tupelos and muscadine flowers.  By early May, perseus bay and sweet bay will add a heavy fragrance to the creek.

At its peak now are swamp dogwood, swamp sweetbells, Virginia sweetspire, False indigo, candy root (at both landings) and butterweed.

The rusty haw, pinxster azaleas and fringe tree blossoms will not last in high 70 temperatures.  The cross vines may be at their end of bloom, also.

There are no exotic plants on Womack creek, unusual in Florida waterways.

More Than Meets the Eye in Blackwater River State Forest

by Beverly Hill

As a local who appreciates the outdoors, natural areas such as Blackwater River State Forest are a welcome diversion from modern life.  A peaceful hike along a trail or a laid back float trip down one of the rivers that run through it settles the mind into a quiet state of reflection.  As the human experience slows, the mind opens to notice more:  a green lynx spider with a bee in its web, a white-tailed deer track, an endangered pitcher plant.

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Even with a natural eye, on a field trip to Blackwater River State Forest with the Florida Master Naturalist program, I was able to come to appreciate even more about what we have right here in the Florida panhandle.  As we walked through the thigh-high wiregrass surrounded by pine trees and sparkleberry bushes, our group came to stop under a tall pine speciman and learned that it was a long  leaf pine, a species of pine that inhabits less than 6% of its original range due to exploitation by the logging industry in the early 1900’s and from attacks by the southern pine beetle.  It is the key tree species in a complex of fire dependent ecosystems in the southeastern United States and plays a vital role in the survival of numerous species of wildlife, such as the endangered red cockaded woodpecker.

The red cockaded woodpecker only makes its cavity nest in old-growth long leaf pines that are at least 80-100 years old.  Our guide, who works extensively with the red cockaded woodpecker, set up a long pole with a video camera on the end and guided it up the tree to a small, nearly imperceptible hole.   Our group crowded around to get a glimpse of the woodpeckers, but instead got to see a southern flying squirrel who had taken up residence in the cavity, proving once again that a seemingly simple thing like a tree can help many things.

We moved on from the tree and carefully explored a small pitcher plant bog at the bottom of the slope where I was able to spot a small collection of white-top and parrot pitcher plants, as well as several small sundews.  The pitcher plant population in the United States is less than 3% of its original size due to habitat loss, a fact that wasn’t lost on me as I watched an impossibly tiny frog hop beneath a blade of grass in search of food.  The more we looked, the more interesting things we found:  wildflowers, dragon flies, archaeological remnants from the turpentine era.

 

We loaded back into the vehicles and headed to an ephemeral pond which is an area that has both wet and dry periods throughout the year and is important for breeding amphibians.  Although dry at the time of our visit, we were once again treated to the sight of unique plants and flowers that grow only in these temporary wetlands.  Almost as temporary as our afternoon outing that was winding down.

Although not my first visit to Blackwater River State Forest, it was one that provided greater insights about the importance of protecting our natural areas, both for ourselves and our environment.  Now, whenever I return, I will walk the trails and float the rivers with hopes of seeing even more hidden treasures.

Beverly Hill’s website: http://www.northwestfloridaoutdooradventure.com  gives photos and information of other Northwest Florida outdoor venues.

 

Everything is blooming on Womack Creek – Easter, 4-1-2018

See it before the pastels shades of green, pinkish green, bronze, yellow-green of spring turn into the heavier colors of summer.

Not just the leaves of the Florida maple and the Ogeche tupelo which leaves are beginning to appear.

The view of the creek is dotted with clumps of light pink, pinxster azaleas at their peak bloom.

False indigo blossoms,  It’s dominant purple bloom stalk encircles by lavender stamen.

The creek’s white flowers are at their peak bloom or beginning to bloom:  swamp sweet bells, swamp dogwood, Virginia Sweetspire, Fringe Tree, Blackberry blossoms, Yaupon, Rusty Haw and an yet to be identified flowering ground cover.

Yellow flowers, not to be missed are butterweed, located in large patches behind the immediate shoreline, candy root and a yet to be identified flower both at Nick’s Road campsite and just beginning to open, spatterdocks.

The first swamp rose is blooming — hard to say yet whether this will be a good year for these roses. There were just a few blooms on the many rose bushes throughout the creek.

But this year is definitely the year of the pinxster azaleas and the orange cross vines.  These vines are blooming profusely throughout the 3.75 mile stretch from the Womack Creek campground landing to Nick’s Road campsite.

And, if you can see those shiny purple balls of sweet-tart berries — blueberries are beginning to ripen.  A few now, but more to come.

A feast for your eyes, a tidbit for your stomach.

 

What’s bloomed and what’s budding – Womack Creek 3-21-2018

Certain blooms have short duration of blooms — take parsley haw.  We saw them all over the creek, just starting to bloom — more buds than fully opened blooms.  Eighteen days later, not a single bloom was seen.   We had missed the peak blooming period for this short tree.

Normally swamp jessamine have a longer duration of bloom — the vines take these blooms high up and wherever there is a spot of sun.  They were blooming when we last visited the creek — none to be seen.

And blueberry blooms, early bloomer along with the Walter’s viburnum — both are going to seed.

This is just the beginning of spring blooming season and expect to see poison ivy, swamp sweetbells, Virginia sweetspire, swamp dogwood, spatterdock.  In the trees, in the water, and on high bushes and low — many levels of blooms can be expected soon.’

And after these, more to come.

When the Pinxster Blooms, Expect the Swallowtails.

It was the day after the official day of Spring, but don’t tell that to the pinxster azaleas.  They have been in bloom for several weeks now, but there were more bushes in bloom yesterday when we paddled up Womack Creek battling NE winds of up to 10mph on the Ochlockonee before entering the protected area of Womack creek.

Stereotypical blue sky and cool temperature at 56 at put-in and add to that swallowtails, pinxster azaleas and fringe tree.

Womack creek is such a gift of native flowers which offer a changing palate of colors, scents and feeling.  Like the waters of the creek, each visit is different.

 

Spring along Tower Road, Tate’s Hell State Forest – 3-18-2018


It’s spring in Tate’s Hell.  Along Tower Road titi, Carolina jessamine, thistles are blooming.  In the ditches, the first white water lilies are blooming and broad-lead arrowhead are in full bloom.

Along Forestry Road 22, which is the northern border of Tate’s Hell State Forest, beyond which is the Apalachicola National Forest and the Mud Swamp Wilderness Area, the Florida state flower, the cosmos blooms.

 

 

What’s blooming now on Womack Creek – 3-3-2018

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The air was dulcet — in the low 60’s, 50’s when we put it, but with a cloudless sky, it soon warmed to a comfortable paddling temperature.

There are two areas of blooming on the Creek.  From the put-in at Womack Creek Campground landing, selecting the left branch (the river to the right is the Ochlockonee), one quickly enters the protected waters of Womack Creek.  From that landing to Nick’s Road campsite is 3.75 miles.  About 2.5 miles from put-in the river branches, take the left to go to Nick’s campsite landing.   The branch on the right is a dead-end — it will not take you to the Ochlockonee River unless the river is at very high flood stage and you could easily get lost without GPS or a compass (this area and north on the Ochlockonee has branches which can lure and confuse paddlers without compass or GPS, particularly when the water is high.)

Depending on water level you can continue beyond Nick’s — the right branch after Nick’s has a longer area of navigability than the branch to the left, which, if you want to be Rambo, will eventually lead you to SR 67.

The two sections of blooming:  the first 2.5 miles to the branch, the branch to the left to Nick’s Road campsite 1.25 miles.

Walter’s viburnum:

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These are the dominant white flowers on the lower 2.5 miles.  On the upper section, these are already dying and forming seed heads.

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The pinxster azaleas are in full bloom in the lower sections, mixed with Walter’s viburnum.

However, there are still bushes which flowers are still in bud.  Expect blooming in this area for another month.

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Blossoming of Pinxter’s in the upper may be for another 3 weeks, but these are now intermixed with Parsley haw.

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Both Walter’s Viburnum and Parsley Haw are tall shrubs and if the tide is outgoing, you may not be able to get a close-up.  The way to distinguish both are the leaves and the Parsley haw when first blooming have pink stamens, as in the lower photo.

Also beginning to bloom are cross vines (not trumpet vines which they resemble), Swamp jessamine (not Carolina which it resembles), bristly buttercup, and beginning to bloom Cowcreek Spider Lily, an endemic species of this area.

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Before reaching Womack Creek, in one of the branches, is a patch of Golden clubs in bloom.

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Soon to be blooming are yaupon holly, fringe tree, swamp dogwood.

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Swallowtail butterflies, monarchs, dragonflies are out.  Swallowtails appear with the blooming azaleas.

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Too early for hornets.

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Sweet gums are leafing; slash pines are blooming — clearly spring on Womack Creek.